Dr. William Bernstein suggests that reading is the ultimate life hack. The average reader can grasp the essence of insight that took many years to put together in just a few hours. Books are magic.

The more you understand human behavior and social psychology, the better. By reading good psychology books, you can jump-start your education and absorb the work of professors and authors who have spent many years creating them. There is no better way to empower yourself than this.

Dr. William Bernstein, Ph.D., is an author of psychology in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has over 20 publications since 1979 and is trained in biology, neuropsychology, psychopharmacology, psychoanalysis, social, organizational, and medical psychology. In this article, we review the 11 best psychology books for beginners.

  1. The Happiness Hypothesis

The Happiness Hypothesis, a book that focuses on ten great ideas, is called “The Happiness Hypothesis”. Each chapter aims to take in one of the many great ideas that have been discovered around the globe. It also tries to question the idea in light of scientific research and extract the lessons that can be applied to modern life and illuminate the causes for human flourishing. Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist, and award-winner show how a deeper understanding of the world’s philosophy and its timeless maxims can enrich and transform our lives.

The Basic History of Social Psychology

Dr. William M. Bernstein Ph.D. stated it is hard to believe that so much has changed since this book was published. This book examines how philosophical wisdom, long-standing maxims, and aphorisms can help you see the world from a different perspective and build resilience. This book is a great example of how history and modern-day parallels can be combined, as opposed to books that have a Stoicism bent.

2. Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

Scott Barry Kaufman felt a profound resonance with Maslow’s unfinished theory about transcendence when he first found it in a collection of unpublished journals and lectures. Kaufman continues where Maslow left off in this book. He unravels the mysteries of Maslow’s unfinished theory and integrates these ideas with recent research on attachment, connection, and creativity.

Kaufman’s new hierarchy provides a guideline for finding purpose and fulfillment. This is not about pursuing money, success, or happiness, but rather being the best version of yourself, which Maslow calls self-actualization. Self-actualization is often viewed as an individual endeavor. However, Maslow believed that to fully realize one’s potential, one must merge with the world. You don’t need to choose between self-development and self-sacrifice. But at the highest levels of human potential, you can show deep integration of both. Transcend shows us this level of human potential which connects us to not only our highest creative potential but also to each other.

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With never-before-published insights and new research findings, along with exercises and opportunities to gain insight into your own unique personality, this empowering book is a manual for self-analysis and nurturing a deeper connection not only with our highest potential but also with the rest of humanity.

Dr. William Bernstein Ph.D. states that transcend starts with an intriguing premise. What if Maslow’s hierarchy wasn’t finished? Scott Barry Kaufman, the author of Transcend, discovered that Maslow’s hierarchy may not be complete by looking through unpublished journals. This prompt led to this book, an exploration of self-actualization that draws on the most recent research and continues where Maslow left off. Kaufman does an excellent job of “finishing” Maslow’s work and adding a new color to the pursuit of self-actualization.

3. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Chip and Dan Heath, the authors of Made to Stick, claim that the primary obstacle to success is a conflict in our brains. Psychologists discovered that the brain is controlled by two systems, the rational mind, and the emotional mind. The rational mind desires a beautiful beach body, while the emotional mind craves Oreo cookies. The rational mind desires to make changes at work, while the emotional mind prefers the familiar routine. However, this tension can be fatal to a change effort. If it is overcome, however rapid, the change can occur.
The Heaths’ Switch shows how ordinary people, including parents, employees, and nurses, have come together and achieved remarkable results.

* A group of medical interns from the lowest ranks who were able to overcome a decades-old, dangerous medical practice.
* A simple method to overcome the fear of housekeeping.
* A manager who made a customer-support team that was lackadaisical into service zealots by taking away a standard customer service tool

The Heaths combine decades of counterintuitive research from psychology, sociology, as well as other fields to create a compelling story about how we can make transformative changes. Switch shows that success in making changes is a process. This pattern can be used to your advantage, regardless of whether you are interested in changing the world, or your waistline.

I love the Heath brothers’ material on persuasion, Dr. William Bernstein stated. Their book Switch addresses the question of “Why is it so difficult to make lasting changes within our companies, communities, and our lives?” In particular, why is it so difficult to change things that are already commonplace? As with their other entry, the arguments are well-structured and extremely readable. You can see that a lot was done to break down the book into sections, making it accessible for everyone. I recently recommended Switch to my book club in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

4. The Social Animal

The Social Animal is a classic text that has remained relevant and innovative edition after edition. It provides a concise, engaging introduction to modern social psychology. Elliot Aronson explores human behavior through vivid narratives, engaging presentations of key research and fascinating examples. He covers topics such as terrorism and conformity, obedience and politics.

This book is my personal favorite in social psychology, stated Dr. William Bernstein Ph.D. The book is in high demand and the prices are sometimes outrageous. However, the demand is justified. Few books can provide you with a comprehensive, well-written overview of social psychology like Elliot Aronson’s classic. It is a must-read if you can find it. I think it’s the best explanation of social psychology 101 that has ever been written.

5. Thinking, Fast and Slow

Finally, the guru of all gurus shares his wisdom with us. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s seminal research in behavioral psychology, economics, happiness studies, and behavioral psychology has had a profound influence on many other authors such as Steven Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell. Kahneman finally offers Thinking, Fast and Slow, his first book for the general population. It’s a concise and insightful summary of Kahneman’s life’s work. It will transform the way you think about thinking.

Kahneman explains that two systems are responsible for the way we think and make decisions. System One is quick, intuitive, emotional, and emotional. System Two, on the other hand, is more slow, deliberative, and logical. Kahneman examines how the two systems work within the mind. He reveals the incredible capabilities and biases of fast-thinking and the influence of intuitions on our thoughts, and our choices. He engages the reader in lively conversations about thinking. He explains where it is possible to trust our intuitions, and how we can tap into slow thinking’s benefits. This contrasts with the traditional model of an economic agent.

Kahneman’s groundbreaking work in cognitive psychology has revolutionized the field of happiness studies and behavioral economics. Kahneman’s groundbreaking book explains how the mind works and gives practical and insightful insights into how our choices affect our personal and professional lives. He also outlines how to avoid mental glitches that can lead us into trouble.

Dr. William Bernstein Ph.D. stated this is one of his favorite psychology books. I could go on for days about the details of this book. There are very few books on behavioral research that can match the depth and breadth of this book by Dan Kahneman. The book’s many examples show that Mr. Kahneman is also a Nobel Prize winner in economics.

6. The Art of Choosing

Every day, we make choices. Pepsi or Coke? Spend or save? Stay or go? These choices shape and define our lives, whether they are mundane or major life events. Sheena Iyengar poses the hard questions of how and why we make choices. Is it innate or influenced by culture? What is the reason we make decisions that are not in our best interests? What control do you really have over the choices we make? The results of Sheena Iyengar’s award-winning research are both surprising and profound.

Our decisions can have profound consequences in a world that are constantly changing, with the technological revolution and interconnected commerce. You can use The Art of Choosing to guide you through the many challenges ahead.

This book is the definitive guide to understanding how humans make decisions and what external influences can affect them, Dr. William M. Bernstein stated. Sheena Iyengar was the first person to introduce me to her work. I found out about her through an online publication. It was obvious that I was intrigued by the idea of choice is overwhelming. People may choose to not take advantage of the additional options available. It is a great read, and it was very entertaining. Sheena is a brilliant writer and researcher, which I consider a plus.

7. Influence: Science and Practice

Influence: Science and practice is a study of the psychology behind compliance. It is possible to determine which factors influence a person’s willingness to accept a request from another.

Cialdini writes in a narrative style and combines scholarly research with evidence from experiments. He also draws on the strategies and techniques he learned while working as an advertiser, fundraiser, and salesperson in organizations that often use compliance tactics to get people to say yes. The eagerly awaited revised of Influence is widely used in classes and sold to business professionals. It reminds listeners of the power that persuasion can have.

Cialdini divides compliance techniques into six categories, based on psychological principles that guide human behavior: consistency, reciprocation, social proof, and liking.

This book is the bible on the psychology of persuasion, stated Dr. William Bernstein Ph.D. Cialdini’s now-famous work is well-deserved. The book is easy to read and contains a lot of great examples that are explained in layman’s terms. Cialdini also takes the time to explain why the studies turned out the way they did. He also discusses how to protect yourself against persuasion tactics that are designed to harm rather than ethically convince. These include scammers, people selling defective products knowingly, and disingenuous attempts at persuasion. This book is highly recommended for a reason.

8. Sophistication

W.M. Bernstein’s Sophistication is a unique combination of serious neuroscience and deadpan humor. It can be best described as Sigmund Freud meets Dave Barry meets Malcom Gladwell-esque amateur science.

The concept of sophistication suggests that readers can be more sophisticated thinkers, better able to understand complex issues, and make better choices in all areas of their lives.

There are four states of mind that, if they become chronic, can be described as shmo (schmuck), schadenfreudist (sophisticate), and Anyone who wants to succeed in life should strive to be a sophisticate. It is an exciting journey!

The book lampoons the self-help genre itself (Dale Carnegie’s famous advice boils down to influencing people by using their name a lot and wearing a hat); Major League Baseball (it’s an orthodox religion); and, Vladimir Putin (Stalin Lite).

The book Sophistication provides valuable insights into the sociological, biological, and psychological causes of behavior that can help you succeed, Dr. William Bernstein said. This book will take you on an amazing journey into the inner workings and mind of the human mind.

9. Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

What is the trigger for fascination? How can companies, people, and ideas use those triggers? Why are some people more captivating than others? What is it about certain brands that you can recall and forget? How can friends and leaders convince you to be more responsible in a busy, distracted world?

Answer: Fascination is the best way to influence decision-making. It is more persuasive than advertising, marketing, and any other type of communication. It all begins with seven universal triggers: lus,t and mystique, alarms, prestige, power, vice, trust, and prestige.

Fascination is a key factor in all types of decision-making, from the brands you choose, the songs you recall, the person you marry, and the employees you hire. You can make any situation fascinating by activating the right triggers.

Sally Hogshead explores fascination’s irresistible power. She also studies historical precedents and neurobiology. Sally also conducted in-depth interviews with 1,000 consumers to uncover deep-rooted patterns that explain why and how we are captivated.

Hogshead shows why the Salem witch trials started with the same obsessions as Sex and the City. How Olympic athletes can be enslaved by obsessions that are similar to those of fetishists. The 2006 real estate bubble perfectly mirrors a 1636 frenzy about the Dutch tulip bulb. The billion-dollar program “Just Say No” actually encouraged teens to use drugs by activating the “forbidden fruit syndrome” as Victoria’s Secret catalog.

You are already using seven triggers, whether you realize it or otherwise. Is it possible to use the correct triggers in the right way to achieve your desired results? This book will show you how.

Two main points of criticism about Sally’s writing are that it often attempts to reinvent more well-known ideas. The second praise is deserved: It’s difficult to call a book “Fascinate” without it being a page-turner. Sally’s writing will keep you hooked until the very end. Sally also provides a detailed game plan and examples of how to implement ideas, which I enjoyed, Dr. William Bernstein said. Sally’s speech was very enjoyable and I bought this book after someone suggested it to me. It’s a thoughtful look at persuasion.

10. A Basic Theory of Neuropsychoanalysis

This book introduces a theoretical framework for studying the mind. Specifically, an attempt is made to frame ideas from psychoanalysis and cognitive-social psychology so that they can be taken readily into the realm of neurobiology. Psychoanalytic Theory still represents a very comprehensive theory of the human mind.

W.M. Bernstein includes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral variables, plus the idea of unconscious mental operations. The ‘pleasure principle and ‘repetition compulsion’ were Freud’s most general concepts of mental functioning. These concepts are renovated to get them “on the same page” with ideas from social cognition and neurobiology, stated Dr. William M. Bernstein.

11. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg, a bestselling business reporter, takes us to the exciting edge of scientific discoveries that explain how habits work and what we can do about them. Duhigg distills vast amounts of information into engaging narratives that take you from the boardrooms at Procter & Gamble, to the NFL sidelines to the frontlines of civil rights movements. He offers a new understanding of humanity and its potential. The Power of Habit is at its core an exciting argument. Understanding how habits work is key to regular exercise, weight loss, increased productivity, and success. Duhigg demonstrates that by harnessing the new science, we can transform businesses, communities, and lives.

The book was highly recommended and I enjoyed it. However, I do have some comments, stated Dr. William M. Bernstein. Although the author does an excellent job of breaking down habits into sub-groups and explaining how habits work in the brain, the book doesn’t show how to alter any habit. Although my expectations were high for a different type of book, I was disappointed that this aspect wasn’t addressed. The book is still easy to read and provides a fascinating look into how habits affect the brain.


The list was created based on many aspects: social psychology, persuasion, and understanding one’s mind. It was not restricted to scientific books, so it could be enjoyed by many people. There will be some pop psychology on the list. These are the 11 best psychology books for beginners.

Thank you for reading and please share this article if it was enjoyable.

About William M. Bernstein

Dr. William Bernstein has a background in psychology, neuroscience, psychopharmacology and psychoanalysis. He also holds a doctorate in medical, organizational, and social psychology. Since 1979, his interest in psychology and experience have resulted in more than 20 publications.

In 1973, Dr. William Bernstein earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Tufts University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1981, he began his research in motivational and cognitive social psychology at the University of Texas. In 1980, he was awarded the University of Texas Professional Development Award. In 1980, he joined Dartmouth college as a Research Associate for Psychology. He was a psychoanalyst and a psychologist in the field of organization consulting.

Dr. Bernstein began his Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Basic & Applied Social & Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. In 1984, he was awarded the Spencer Foundation Grant: Measuring Empathy & Accuracy in Person Perception among a group of Clinical & Counseling Psychology students. As an Associate Clinical Fellow, Dr. Bernstein joined Boston Institute for Psychotherapy in 1992. In the same year, he interned at Herbert Lipton Mental Health Center, Boston, Ma. In 1996, Dr. Bernstein was appointed a Clinical Fellow in Psychology at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. William M. Bernstein PhD New Mexico

Dr. William Bernstein began his own independent practice in 1999. He has been a practicing physician in New York, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Dr. Bernstein received his Psychopharmacology Training program at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces (New Mexico) in 2007. His work experience included consulting in organization management and as a psychoanalyst at the Children’s Treatment Center and Lovelace Hospitals in Albuquerque.

Dr. Bernstein’s current focus is to share his knowledge and expand his research in motivational and cognitive social psychology through writing. W.M. Bernstein published the latest addition to his anthology, The Body-Mind Reader Feedback App. It was published in 2020. His publications can be downloaded in digital or printed form and are featured on the Amazon books and Apple app store.

Dr. William Bernstein, Ph.D., currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.